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EDITORIAL: These five foods boost immunity

by Randy Moll | January 17, 2023 at 5:00 a.m.

We all say it when we feel the first inklings of a stuffy nose, a sore throat or a slight cough: "I can't afford to get sick right now."

None of us has the time or energy to take off work, stay home from school or fight off illness, especially right after the holidays. But there's a reason a lot of people are feeling "under the weather" right now. We are more susceptible to catching colds and other illnesses in the winter months.

That's because our immune system is weaker in the winter than in the summer. Not only do we get less vitamin D but our bodies struggle more to fight germs when cold air enters our noses and lungs. Colder weather also means we spend more time indoors coming into contact with germs from other people that are in the air or on surfaces like phones and door knobs.

The good news is that there is a way to build innate immunity -- the first line of defense against infection. The even better news is that this method doesn't require you to swallow any giant vitamins. All you need to do is eat some of your favorite foods.

What's on the immunity menu?

Vitamin C in grapefruit, oranges, tangerines, sweet red pepper, broccoli, strawberries, kale and kiwi contains antioxidants that can decrease inflammation, boost immunity, protect memory and reduce the risk of heart disease.

Vitamin E in nuts, seeds and green foods like avocado and spinach can help grow the white blood cells that help your body fight off infection. An added benefit is that vitamin E can help you avoid dry skin in the colder months.

People say chicken noodle soup is a cure-all, but that's not exactly true. While no studies prove that America's go-to soup heals our ailments, the elements that make up soup can make us feel better. The protein in chicken helps build antibodies that fight infection and vegetables like carrots, onions and celery provide us with vitamin A, vitamin C, anti-inflammatories and antioxidants. Warm broth also can clear our airways.

Probiotics like yogurt, kombucha, pickles, kimchi and sauerkraut help you maintain good gut bacteria and lessen bad bacteria that can make you sick. Regularly taking probiotics also can reduce the severity and length of illness if you do catch a cold or the flu.

Spices like garlic, ginger and turmeric can boost white blood cells, lower cold risks and contain antioxidants and anti-inflammatories. Studies indicate that these ingredients also can reduce stress, depression and anxiety -- and we all tend to get sick during times of stress, don't we?

Of course, another way to fight off winter illness is a good old-fashioned flu shot. Have you gotten yours yet?

To schedule an appointment with a primary care physician, visit https://bit.ly/PCP_Online today.

About Siloam Springs Regional Hospital

Siloam Springs Regional Hospital is a licensed 73-bed facility with 42 private patient rooms. It is accredited by the State of Arkansas Department of Health Services and The Joint Commission. Some services include inpatient and outpatient surgery, emergency medicine, medical, surgical and intensive care units, obstetrics, outpatient diagnostic services and inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation. With more than 50 physicians on the medical staff, Siloam Springs Regional Hospital provides compassionate, customer-focused care. SSRH is an affiliate of Northwest Health, the largest health system in Northwest Arkansas. Siloam Springs Regional Hospital is located at 603 N. Progress Ave. in Siloam Springs. For more information, visit NorthwestHealth.com.

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